Seated on a stage are 15 students representing almost 10 countries from around the world. The audience, the Xavier Catholic High School student population, have the unique opportunity to not only hear about their stories, fears, and cultures, but also to ask them questions regarding their home countries that they might otherwise not have the chance to learn about. This was the start of the International Roundtable on Oct. 23, an event that garnered exchange students from all over Iowa.
The International Roundtable is an annual event hosted by the Xavier Student Senate. International students, student senate presidents, and student journalists from Iowa high schools are invited to the roundtable. Liberty exchange students Ifada Auzan, Sara Huertas Ladra, and Lavinia Wu, in addition to a Live Wire reporter, attended this event.
The day was separated into three workshops followed by lunch. The first workshop was the one outlined above; exchange students were in the spotlight and answered questions from Xavier students.
These questions ranged from “how long was your flight to Iowa?” (Answer: Almost 2 days for Auzan, who took a total of 8 flights from her home country of Indonesia to the United States) to “what is the biggest difference from your home country to the United States?” (The answer for most was the cold weather, as many live in tropical climates and have never seen snow).
The second workshop took place in world language classrooms. Exchange students had more in-depth discussions with students taking Spanish and French classes.
The final session was a “meet-and-greet” event for exchange students to meet and talk to each other. For Ladra, it was a chance to speak her first language of Spanish with others from her home country of Spain as well as other Spanish-speaking countries.
In addition, Xavier students from an intercultural class had the chance to interview exchange students for a project focused on differences of economic systems across the world.
For Auzan, Ladra, and Wu, this experience was a valuable chance to meet other exchange students and share their experiences.
“I decided to go to this event because I thought that it was a great opportunity to meet people [who are] in the same situation [as me] and they are the ones that can understand [me] the most,” said Ladra. “[I loved] everything, but [my] favorite is that I meet awesome new people and that I could explain my experience to people from the school,” she added.